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Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312263821, Paperback)When Robert Clive, a "harum-scarum schoolboy" not yet out of his teens, arrived in India in 1744, he found himself in the middle of chaos: English merchants fought against French traders, Indian princes warred among themselves, Portuguese and Dutch privateers plied the coasts, and throughout the country, anarchy reigned. Clive flourished amid the confusion. He quickly distinguished himself both in battle, showing bravery and unusual presence of mind, and in trade. The combination was profitable for his employer, the East India Company, and although Clive committed suicide in the wake of political scandal in 1774, he set in motion what would become the British conquest of India and the establishment of the Raj, a mixed form of government in which the English ruled through a network of Indian politicians and civil servants. Outwardly stable, the Raj was constantly under threat both by Indian aspirations to self-rule and by other imperialists' intrigues, notably on the part of Russia, Britain's chief competitor in what would come to be called "the great game." Lawrence James, a longtime student of British military history, offers a sweeping, and wholly absorbing, narrative account of the Raj, taking it from Clive's time to the era of Mahatma Gandhi and the flamboyant Viscount Mountbatten, the last British viceroy of India. --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:19 -0400)
In less that one hundred years, the British made themselves the masters of India. They ruled for another hundred, leaving behind the independent nations of India and Pakistan when they finally withdrew in 1947. Both nations would owe much to the British Raj: under its rule, Indians learned to see themselves as Indians; its benefits included railways, roads, canals, schools, universities, hospitals, universal language and common law. None of this, however, was planned. After a series of emergencies in the eighteenth century transformed a business partnership-the East India Company-into the most formidable war machine in Asia, conquest gathered its own momentum. Fortunes grew, but, alongside them, Britons grew troubled by the despotism that had been created in their name. The result was the formation of a government that balanced firmness with benevolence, and had as its goal the advancement of India. But the Raj, outwardly so monolithic and magnificent, always rested precariously on the goodwill of Indians. In this remarkable exploration of British rule in India, Lawrence James chronicles the astonishing heroism that created it, the mixture of compromise and firmness that characterized it, and the twists and turns of the independence struggle that ended it. " ... James presents a consistently intriguing take on a deeply complicated history." - Publishers Weekly
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